Passports and fake marriages: Politics on TV, Oct. 26 edition

Talking about e-passports, tenderized meat, and fake marriages

Message of the day

“We’re cracking down on these fraudulent marriages.”

Questions not answered

  • Why did it take the Public Health Agency seven years to do anything about the problem of contamination through tenderized meat?

John Baird:

John Baird was on Power & Politics to talk about the new e-passports unveiled this morning. Baird said that the new passports contain a computer chip as a counter-fraud initiative similar to one many other countries have also been using it. Baird said that the new images were those they felt would celebrate the country. When asked about the current situation in Syria, Baird said they were taking every diplomatic action necessary, that we have some of the toughest sanctions on Syria, and are providing humanitarian assistance.

Baird was also on Power Play, where he added that the Syrian economy has largely collapsed because of the sanctions, and that sanctions were also having an effect in an Iran after their currency collapsed. With regards to the UN, Baird said that he is calling for the resignation of the UN rapporteur who is calling for boycotts of Israel.

Marriage Fraud:

Don Martin spoke with Jason Kenney about his plans to crack down on fake marriages. New rules came into effect today, which means that there is a two-year probation period before marriages are considered legitimate for the purpose of permanent residency. Kenney said there is an industry of fake marriage sponsorships, and that this will create a real barrier to that kind of immigration fraud.

Kenney was also on Power & Politics, where he added that there is a 20 per cent rejection rate for foreign marriages, and there is a problem where they divorce upon arrival and sponsor their real spouse from their home country. Kenney said that immigrant communities asked him to fix this problem. When Thibedeau asked what happens if marriages break down legitimately before that two years is up, Kenney said that if there is domestic abuse, that will not count against them.

Tenderized meat:

With tenderized meat having been pointed to as one of the links with the E. Coli outbreak, Thibedeau assembled an MP panel of Kellie Leitch, Malcolm Allen, and Mauril Bélanger to ask if there was a need to add warning labels. Leitch intimated that it took so long for PHAC to address the situation because it takes forever to get something through the Commons, and that voluntary measures were more expedient. Bélanger said that a measure to address a risk to public safety would move quickly through the House, and that labels should be mandatory rather than relying on store signage. Allen said that labelling is done by regulations, and wouldn’t need to come before the Commons.

International trade relations:

Power Play’s strategists panel of Gerry Nicholls, Anne McGrath and Marlene Floyd talked about the Petronas decision with a week of added perspective. Nicholls said that he thought the Conservatives were about to be all for free trade and investment, so it’s no wonder foreign companies are wondering what’s going on. McGrath noted the drama around how the decision was handled, and that the government is scrambling as the file is getting away from them. Floyd pointed to the amount of global uncertainty with Canada being “open for business,” and that there is no transparency or clarification that was promised two years ago.


Martin spoke to NDP MP Charlie Angus about the First Nations community of Attawapiskat one year after they declared a state of emergency. Angus said that the community is a little further ahead, the trailers made a difference and the school is finally getting built, but there is still no plan. Angus noted that the community sat down with CMHC to build 30 homes on a rent-to-own basis, but the government spiked the deal. While Attawapiskat is no longer under third-party management and has been largely vindicated, Angus said there are other communities in similar circumstances, and there seems no momentum on fixing them.

Supreme Court:

Martin spoke with Constitutional lawyer Eugene Meehan about the busy docket at the Supreme Court. Meehan said that it’s not unusual that the Court is overturning so many lower court decisions given their mandate. With regards to the split decision with Etobicoke Centre, Meehan said that dissents are generally very strong, and it’s not common but certainly not rare for the Chief Justice to be in the dissent. He said that the Bedford appeal around prostitution laws is definitely a case that is in the public interest.

MP pensions:

With the MP pensions bill not whipping through the Senate as it did through the Commons, and Senator Grant Mitchell’s concerns that the reduction in net pay for MPs as a result of these changes could open them up to bribery, Thibedeau asked the Friday Power Panel about it. Kady O’Malley noted that there was no debate in the Commons, so it’s not really a bad thing that it’ll get scrutiny in the Senate. Greg Weston noted that most people won’t have sympathy for this, but agreed that no one was really allowed to debate this issue. Rob Russo felt that Senator Mitchell rather doused himself in “political gasoline,” while Kelly Cryderman said that Senators can speak their minds more freely, and there is still the debate on how to attract quality candidates.

When Don Martin asked journalists Stephen Maher and Mia Rabson about this issue, Rabson said bribery shouldn’t be out of the realm of the discussion, given what is taking place in Quebec, but that Mitchell’s arguments won’t get much traction. Maher agreed that in a way, the concern was legitimate but that people don’t take bribes because of pay cuts, but because they’re crooked – and then brought up how Mulroney took cash payments from Karlheinz Schreiber.

Reviewing the fighter jet procurement:

The news that the government is looking for another independent review of the fighter jet procurement process was also put to P&P’s Power Panel. Russo said the military really doesn’t want anything other than the F-35s, but the government needs to show the public they’re on the right course, lest they lose the lustre they gained with the shipbuilding procurement process. Weston noted that we are ten years into this fighter jet procurement process, and that this new review is a PR exercise designed to convince the public there is some level of competition in play. O’Malley said the new call for the new review is worded in such a way that it seems to be asking for a “good news version” of the Auditor General’s report.